Saturday, January 13, 2018

Boondocking at Tucson's Snyder Hills BLM


A coyote pauses at the edge of the road and waits for me to pass before he saunters across and into the drainage on the other side. It is good to be back in Arizona. Our eventual destination is Quartzsite or “Q” by those who have been there a time or two. But right now we are on the southern edge of Tucson. This is the third time we have stayed at the Snyder Hills BLM Area (32.156941, -111.116493) in the almost 4 years we have been on the road. We originally found this site on Free Campsites.Net where it get mostly favorable reviews. I don’t know how to accurately describe Snyder Hills. There are good parts and bad parts, I guess that is true with almost everywhere we go but the degree of good parts and bad parts tends to vary.
An over head shot of the area
Our rig is in the top center
Plenty of room in this area for another rig or two
The good parts is that it is free, it is warm and it is centrally located to almost anything you need to get to in the Tucson area. The bad part is that not everyone takes care of the area like they could. There are a variety of rigs, campers and tents in the area and although it has a 14 day limit, I don’t think that is enforced very strictly. There is one porta potty but it is obvious that not all bother walking that far to use it. Some would probably never stay here for those reasons or fearing that someone might steal something in the middle of the night but we have never had a problem. People here tend to leave each other to themselves so are fine staying here a few nights.
Here are a few shots of the more "interesting" set ups:
Tent/trailer combo, we never saw the tenant
This trailer had a wood burning stove!
We do take precautions like we do anywhere we boondock in remote areas. We park the truck right outside my side of the bedroom window so I can see or hear anything during the night. I have a flashlight on the shelf above my head should I feel the need to shine the light out the window. I keep the truck keys there as well. Why you ask? Do you ever lay in bed and wonder: “Did I lock the truck?” A quick push of the button on the remote answers that. It also turns the lights on momentarily and lets anyone in the area know you are awake and aware.  The remote also has the panic button on it if the need ever arises. It never has but it is nice to know it is right there.

We have never felt unsafe anywhere we have parked….wait I take that back. A year or so ago we parked in a Walmart parking lot and went into the rig for the night. As it got dark the parking lot got crowded and it became obvious we were in the wrong area. So we packed up and moved (to another Walmart just down the road). But other than that we have always felt pretty safe.
For those visiting the area for the first time, there is plenty to do in the area. Top of our list is Saguaro National Park and The Desert Museum. We attended both of those on previous visits and will do it again when we are in the area. Old Tucson Studios where  movies like 3:10 to Yuma, The Outlaw Jose Wales and Rio Bravo were filmed, Pima Air Museum for those who love air craft history and miles and miles of outstanding hiking trails also await those visiting this area.

There were two other bonuses for us stopping at Snyder Hills. The first is that it is near our 2nd favorite donut shop (Queen Donuts) we have discovered so far. The criteria for what makes our favorite donut shop list is quite simple; they have to have buttermilk donuts and they have to be good and this one fits the bill. Our favorite donut shop is in Henderson, NV (Friendly Donuts). The second bonus for stopping here is that Red and Pam were at Diamond J’s just a few miles down the road! They too are slowly make their way to “Q” so it was nice to cross paths with them for a couple of days. Barb and Pam went shopping a couple of times, we did happy hour one night but unfortunately Red had a nasty cold so we were not able to get together as much as we would have liked.

The other nice thing about spending a few days here is that we can get caught up on some of the things you just cannot do in a lot of the smaller towns or more remote areas we stop. We stocked up on groceries, beer and booze for one. It was during one of these outings that Barb and I had what I would call an interesting incident. Barb on the other hand would call it scary. We were just finishing up our grocery shopping and heading to the registers when we hear someone yell “Call the police!” A few seconds later “I am not kidding, call the police”. Then this guy walks within 10 feet of us gets on his knees, puts his hands behind his back and again yells, “Call the police”. You can imagine, he started to gather quite a crowd. Curious on lookers were staying a safe distance back, some continued to shop while others gathered up their small children, abandoned their carts and scurried for the door.

Since we were done shopping I skirted the man and went to a register as far away as we could, got in line and kept an eye on him. He continued to yell. This went on for a few minutes. Pretty soon the guy gets up and is walking towards us. Barb gets this panicked look on her face and slowly edges further into the checkout line. The guy walks by and continues to yell. This goes on for too long, (seemed like 10 minutes). The guy walks up one side of the registers then down the other side sometimes yelling, sometimes silent. A stream of employees are following him, a couple of them on the phone (with the police I hope). Then the guys breaks into a run and sprints out the door. While Barb waited in line I went out to see where he went and see him running towards a Planet Fitness and disappears from view. Sirens are approaching but it appears the immediate area is safe so I go back inside and we pay for our groceries. As we are driving away we see the guy in the parking lot of the Planet Fitness on his knees, hands behind his back surrounded by squad cars. Scary, but you also cannot help but feel sorry for someone who is so racked with torment that that is what their life is like…..

I also spent 3 hours at a Discount Tire store getting the tires rotated and balanced. This may seem like an extraordinarily long time and you would be right. It started out as an hour and a half, rotated, balanced and down the road until I got to my next stop and inspected the tires. One of the tire pressure monitors was missing! So back I went. The tech remembers putting them on the running board of the truck so he would remember to put it back on that tire…..gone. Luckily they were really good about it and gave me $50 out of the register to buy a new one. 

Although we did not do a lot of "touristy" things during this visit, we did get a lot done and enjoyed our time here. Next up our first visit to Casa Grande! 

15 comments:

  1. Wow. The adventure continues. It seems that Wal-mart's employees were a little slow to react or else the cops were. In this day and age you never know. Lisa would have been out the door looking for Target. They draw a better class of shoppers. You could buy an air soft gun. They look realistic and deliver a nice welt. Stay safe.

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    1. It was amazing that people just kept shopping, just going around the guy like it was something that happens everyday!

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  2. Wow, that's quite the shopping experience! Glad nobody got hurt. Looking forward to seeing you guys, safe travels.

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  3. We really enjoy Tucson and all it has to offer, not to mention hiking in every direction. We are heading there for the month of Feb. Enjoy Casa Grande. We've only used the town to get Starbucks:)

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    1. We thought of you guys when we were there! We did not get out hiking this time but many trails await us down the road!

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  4. Life on the road is full of crazy experiences. You guys seem to find more than your share. Hopefully you can replace the tire monitor sensor in Q.

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    1. There was a TST vendor when we were there last year so we are hopeful.

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  5. We have plans to head back to Tucson in the future to do more exploring.
    We didn't get the chance to enjoy Casa Grande. Maybe again.
    We are at our spot at the Q.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time.

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    1. If you are at your same spot we will see your flag and find you!

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  6. Thanks for sharing the boondocking spot. Sounds like the perfect location. We had hoped to make it to Q this year, but are still grounded in TN for a bit. Hugs from us to the rest of the 2014 RV Dreams bunch.

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    1. Although we will not be going to the boondocking rally, we hope to catch up with a few '14'ers while we are there!

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  7. Well, maybe he'll get the care he obviously needs. Sad. Looking forward to seeing you both when you get to Q! Looking forward to meeting your new poochy!

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  8. Wow - what an experience! I don’t blame Barb for being nervous! I sure would have been!

    Looking forward to seeing everyone in Q! We should be there +/- 3/4. We will be at the boondock rally!

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